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Replacing your Furling Line

How to decide on a new furling line for your Headsail Reefing

The basic factors are length and diameter:

Establishing the Length:

It may be possible to establish the necessary length from the manufacturer recommendations in the reefing manual. Otherwise you can estimate the length by adding four component measurements together while the headsail is furled.

  1. Allow for several warps around the drum
  2. The distance from the furling drum back to the cockpit by your selected routing through blocks/fairleads.
  3. The length of the foot of the sail when fully extended
  4. Add on a tail that stretches to a convenient/ergonomic position in the cockpit for hauling in the sail when it is completely unfurled - if you anticipate the need to use a winch in extremis, then you need to ensure that the line will reach with another short tail - this will also give you a margin for error :-)

Establishing the Diameter

This is usually recommended by the manufacturer in the reefing manual but is effectively limited by the capacity of the drum – most reefing lines are normally 6mm, but sometimes they are 7mm (not commonly available as a line size) or on larger drums/yachts the diamater is likely to be 8mm.

Decision Making Factors

Break Load

If you think you will need to winch your furling line at any time due to frictional resistance in the system or because you anticipate trying to reef in severe wind conditions, thereby putting excessive strain on the line, you may want to consider tensile strength.
The efficient safe working load of a line is related to:
The composition of the fibres, progressing from 100% polyester - ► polyester with a relatively percentage of high load dyneema in the core - ► polyester with full dyneema core - ► 100% dyneema
The number of plaits – more plaits means more linear strength i.e. progressing from 8plait through to 32plait


The ease with which the line bends around sheaves and fairleads reduces with the number of plaits in the braid: progressing from 8plait = most flexible through to 32plait = less flexible.


For a straight-line pull on a winch, slippage is unwelcome, so grip is a plus factor
If the line runs through a system that includes some tight angles, flexibility and 'slipperiness' may make a marginal difference, but the quality of the blocks, the state of the bearings and the size of the sheaves (turning circle) will be far more important.
Resistance to slippage is also known as the grip factor - the outer cover of the line may have specific grip fibres that are blended in to a line like LIROS TopGrip Friction and Grip otherwise depend on the smoothness of the fibre: progressing from a matt (spun) fibre e.g. LIROS Matt Plait which is soft and fibrous through to a bright, multifilament finish (sleek and glossy, although it eventually mats with wear) e.g. LIROS Braid on Braid EVO


The abrasion resistance of the line improves with the number of plaits: progressing from 8plait = less resistant through to 32plait = more resistant to wear.
The closeness of the weave also contributes to resilience against wear and tear, and so for hard usage associated with e.g. extended cruising it is worth considering an upgrade to LIROS Herkules
Polyester is the most UV resistant rope fibre.


The price per metre of each line is initially contingent on the construction of the polyester braid and then by the content of the more expensive dyneema fibre.

The Popular Choice

LIROS Braid on Braid Evo is by far the most commonly used furling line on cruising yachts

The Upgrade for Exceptionally Hard Work

LIROS HERKULES is the best 100% polyester braided line available

The Extreme Option

If you want to seriously upgrade, you may wish to consider:
A high specification polyester line with a full dyneema core:LIROS Racer Dyneema

A 100% Dyneema 12plait holowbraid line: LIROS D Pro

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